Review Summary: Saying that And Justice For All is a bad album is an uneducated and ignorant statement. Yet it is still not the classic album it is cut out to be.
Some things are too long. Remember school days? Well they went for too long. Dragging on through a single day of school was always such a tough task to accomplish. Crandynewmans tyranny is also another case of something that persisted longer than deemed necessary. …And Justice For All, Metallicas critically acclaimed fourth album, applies these infuriating analogies throughout its entire playlist. Metallica are perhaps the most successful metal band of all time, and with AJFA’s predecessor, Master of Puppets, Metallica took the music industry by storm, providing their own edge and twists to the various compositions at the time. Instead of capitalizing on their acclamation and manufacturing possibly creating the unsurpassed thrash metal album of all time, they veered off down a different road, the one that inevitably lead them to ‘Lulu,’ the laughing stock of today’s society.
James Hetfield is arguably one of the greatest rhythm guitarists to ever pick up an instrument. On AJFA he plays with the anticipated speed, detail and skill that society expected of him. The track ‘Blackened,’ depicts one of his greatest performances yet, as he lays down a brutal opening riff that has become famed and admired by all modern-day musicians. This is not the only time Hetfield – and Hammett- excels at their guitar refrains. It is a frequent occurrence for them to lay down, not only technically pleasing, but interesting and powerful and guitar riffs throughout …And Justice for All.
Although simple in structure, Kirk Hammetts solos are usually the epitome of a certain song. Executed sublimely, solos appear on practically every song within this record. ‘One,’ ‘Eye of the Beholder,’ and ‘…And Justice For All,’ are particularly tasteful performances by Hammett.
This release, clocking in at slightly above an hour, is one of the longest drags that such a cherished band has ever created. Three quarters of the songs on AJFA could have easily done without a verse and a chorus without impacting the overall quality of the album, in fact, most likely making it superior. The title track of this record is an impeccable example of a track that would be enhanced if a minute or so was cut from it. This song, similarly too ‘To Live is to Die,’ nearly goes for ten minutes, when it would have been just as effective going for eight and ending along with Kirks solo. Nonetheless Metallica proceed with adding their extra refrains, which makes certain tracks as bland as Keanu Reeves acting performances.
The musicianship on this album is quite disappointing for such a group of talented members. Aside from the fairly solid yet prolonged guitar performance most instruments seem to ride the line of mediocrity without caring to make themselves rise above and beyond. The bass-work by Jason Newsted is practically non-existent, rearing its ugly head in only the briefest of instances. Although the death of Cliff Burton was a tragic moment for the band members of Metallica, they gave him no respect by recruiting a bassist that had no impact on the studio album that followed Cliffs untimely demise.
It is common knowledge that Lars Ulrich is not the greatest heavy metal drummer to exist, in fact he is infamously branded to be a fairly simplistic drummer, and this notoriety is synonymous with his efforts in …And Justice For All. At points it is a good decision to lay down percussion beats as easy as the grass is green, yet in thrash metal the beats need to be at least fairly invigorating. ‘Blackened,’ contains one of Lars’ best instrumental performances, where he adds life and flair to the already excellent track. Yet the extremely well-known song ‘One,’ contains a rather bland and uninterested drumming presentation.
James Hetfields vocals are nothing special, not as energizing as they are sometimes made out to be. His singing on AJFA are slightly over-produced (not as much as on the Black Album and all following releases) yet it is still a noticeable con of this record. Whereas on AJFAs ancestors, and other thrash metal releases (notably Tom Araya) the vocal-work is powerful and exuberant, whereas on tracks like ‘Dyers Eve,’ it sounds as though Hetfield doesn’t really care about the injustices he is notifying his lost mother and father about.
Often quoted as Metallica’s best album, And Justice For All… is an interesting listen… for the first six minutes and forty-one seconds.